Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps
|Director||Roman Blenski II|
Class A60: 1991 |
Division II: 1994 & '95
White jacket |
w/Orange & Dark Green baldric
Dark green pants
White combination hat
& a large shamrock badge
Pioneer traces its roots to the St. Patrick's (Catholic) parish of Milwaukee and its drum and bugle (D&B) corps, the Imperials of St. Patrick, founded in 1961, although some have said that the actual founding of the corps was the start of the Thunderbolts of Cedarburg, Wisconsin in 1953.(See Note A) Both corps had been active in the Milwaukee area and the Midwest region, and both attended the inaugural DCI World Championship prelims in Whitewater, Wisconsin in 1972, with the Imperials of St. Patrick finishing in 19th place and the Thunderbolts in 28th.
By 1973, the Imperials were facing financial difficulties, and the Thunderbolts were having difficulty maintaining support staff, so the two corps merged. This resulted in a 150 member corps that was not only much larger than most drum corps of that time but one that had both financial and staff stability. Unable to decide on a better name and wearing the vastly different uniforms of both corps, the new corps was called "The Thing" during its first season. In 1974, the corps received the sponsorship of the Pioneer Container Corporation and found a name. The Thunderbolts' cadet corps continued, and it was joined by a second "feeder" corps, Pioneer II. After only a few years, the Thunderbolts' part of the merger departed in favor of the Thunderbolts Cadets, leaving only the Imperials part in place, bringing about the unit's dropping the Thunderbolts' 1953 founding as its beginning..
While not initially a power, Pioneer became a regular competitor in the Midwest region during the remainder of the 1970s, and in 1978, the corps was one of the founding members of Drum Corps Midwest (DCM) which was to become the premier regional circuit in North America over the next quarter century. In 1985, the primary corps went inactive, and Pioneer II began a transition into becoming Pioneer in 1986. By 1989, Pioneer had started to become a power in Class A60. In 1991, the corps won both the DCM Division III (DIII) title and the DCI Class A60 World Championship; in 1992, they won their 3rd DCM DIII championship but finished second in DCI DIII to the Mandarins.
In 1993 Pioneer, moved into Division II (DII), where the corps was an immediate challenger for the championship. The corps was DCM DII champions four consecutive years, 1993-96. In 1994, the corps was undefeated and won the DCI DII crown. They defended their DCI title in 1995, but in 1996, fell in finals to Quebec's Les Etoiles by two-tenths of a point. Pioneer moved to Division I (DI) in 1997, and have continued to compete in that division (now known as World Class), where the corps' best finish at the DCI World Championships was 16th place in 2000. Although Pioneer won the DCM DI title in 2004 and 2005, making them the only corps to win DCM titles in 3 divisions; the most prominent corps had abandoned DCM by then, and there were no other competitors for the DI titles.
Pioneer celebrated the corp's 50th anniversary during the 2011 season.
Since the banning of smoking in public places---such as during Pioneer's bingo--- fundraising declined. In response, Pioneer "tightened its belt" by eliminating many expenses. The end result was a smaller corps, often the smallest in World Class, and diminished scores and lower finishes at the DCI Championships. Regardless, the corps has kept going and striving to be "Better Every Day.".
The Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps & Color Guard is a 501 (c)(3) musical organization. As such, it has a Board of Directors, director, and staff assigned to carry out the organization's mission. Roman Blenski II(See Note B) is the corps director and the organization's Executive Director. 
Note A--- Originally the Cedarburg High school Drum & Bugle corps, the Thunderbolts gained sponsorship by the Kiekhaefer Mercury Corporation, a manufacturer of outboard motors, and they were officially named the Mercury Thunderbolts. In 1971, the corps and Mercury parted company, and the corps took the name Thunderbolts of Cedarburg. When The Thing was formed, the corps also brought a cadet feeder corps into the new organization. In 1976, the Thunderbolt Cadets parted company with Pioneer, and, using the name Cedarburg Thunderbolts, marched as a separate unit until ceasing operations after the 1979 season.
Note B---Roman Blenski II, a member of the DCI Hall of Fame, World Drum Corps Hall of Fame, and the Canadian Legion of Honor, began his association with the corps in the Imperials of St. Patrick's first season. In 1961, while still a marching member of the Norwood Park (IL) Imperials, Blenski was hired to teach the young, novice brass players from the St. Patrick Parish School. He has been associated with the corps ever since. His wife Susan was also an instructor for the Imperials of St. Patrick. Their children marched in Pioneer, a family tradition passed on to grandchildren. Blenski was also Executive Director of Drum Corps Midwest from 1979 until it ceased operations in 2005 and continues to serve as a member of the Executive Board of DCI. Susan Blenski serves as Pioneer's treasurer and director of its bingo operation.
Show Summary (1973-2018)
Gold background indicates DCI Championship; pale blue background indicates DCI Class Finalist; pale green background indicates DCI semifinalist.
|1973||Fanfare (Unknown) / Circus March (Unknown) / Rule Britannia by Thomas Arne and James Thomson /
Skyliner by Charlie Barnet and Dale Bennett / Elijah Rock (Traditional) /
Here There And Everywhere by Lennon–McCartney
|1974||Fanfare (Unknown) / Elegy March by Roger Nixon / Hey Jude by Lennon–McCartney /
Skyliner by Charlie Barnet and Dale Bennett / In the Mood by Wingy Manone, Joe Garland, and Andy Razaf /
1812 Overture by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky
|1975||Alexander's Ragtime Band by Irving Berlin / Temptation by Nacio Herb Brown and Arthur Freed /
In the Mood by Wingy Manone, Joe Garland, and Andy Razaf / Encore in Jazz by Vic Firth /
How the West Was Won by Alfred Newman / Battle Hymn of the Republic by William Steffe and Julia Ward Howe
|1976||Alexander's Ragtime Band by Irving Berlin / Encore in Jazz by Vic Firth / My Quiet Thoughts (Unknown) /
El Malo by Willie Colón / Selections from Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb
|1977||Sheherazade by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov / Selections from Cabaret by John Kander and Fred Ebb||65.95||34th|
|1978||Could it be Magic by Adrienne Anderson, Barry Manilow, and Frédéric Chopin / Pepsi Theme (Unknown) /
McDonald's Theme by Kevin Gavin and Sid Woloshin / Bandstand Boogie by Charles Albertine /
Theme from New York New York by John Kander and Fred Ebb
|57.85||4th Class A|
|1979||Circus March (Unknown) / Harrigan by George M. Cohan /
Sheik Of Araby by Harry B. Smith, Francis Wheeler, and Ted Snyder /
Give My Regards to Broadway (from Little Johnny Jones) by George M. Cohan /
Try to Remember by Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones
|1980||Circus March (Unknown) / Mambo Tambo by Miguelito Valdés /
They're Playing Our Song by Marvin Hamlisch and Carole Bayer Sager / Pippin by Stephen Schwartz
|1981||Annie by Charles Strouse and Martin Charnin / New York Jump (Unknown) /
Walking Papers (from The Act) by John Kander and Fred Ebb /
Mambo Tambo by Miguelito Valdés / Morning Glow (from Pippin) by Stephen Schwartz
|60.55||3rd Class A|
|1982||Selections from 42nd Street by Harry Warren and Al Dubin / Morning Glow (from Pippen) by Stephen Schwartz||56.30||5th Class A|
|1983||Alexander's Ragtime Band by Irving Berlin /
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans by John Turner Layton, Jr. and Henry Creamer /
I Feel the Earth Move by Carole King / Waiting for the A Train by Jimmie Rodgers /
Lullaby of Broadway (from 42nd Street) by Harry Warren and Al Dubin
|1984||Far From Over by Vince DiCola and Frank Stallone / All Night Long by Lionel Richie /
Shop Around by Smokey Robinson and Berry Gordy /
Waiting for the A Train by Jimmie Rodgers / La Cage Aux Folles by Jerry Herman
|1985||Oklahoma! (from Oklahoma!) by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II /
Medley of George M. Cohan pieces / Comedian's Galop by Dmitry Kabalevsky /
Return of the Spiders by Alice Cooper, Glen Buxton, Michael Bruce, Dennis Dunaway, and Neal Smith /
The Hands of Time (Theme from Brian's Song) by Michel Legrand, Marilyn and Alan Bergman
|1986||Irish Rhapsody by Victor Herbert /
McNamara's Band by Guy Bonham, John J. Stamford, Red Latham, Shamus O'Connor, and Wamp Carlson /
The Girl I Left Behind from (the Irish Suite) (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson /
Reeling and Railing (Traditional) / Kelly the Boy from Calion (Traditional) /
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by Ernest R. Ball, Chauncey Olcott, and George Graff, Jr.
|53.4||15th Class A60|
|1987||The American Spirit||America (from West Side Story) by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim /
When Irish Eyes Are Smiling by Ernest R. Ball, Chauncey Olcott, and George Graff, Jr. / America by Neil Diamond /
Stars and Stripes Forever, Thunder March & Manhattan Beach March by John Philip Sousa /
|57.50||13th Class A60|
|1988||Rhapsody in Blue by George Gershwin / Jericho by Morton Gould /
Carioca by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu, and Gus Kahn / Rockin' Robin by Leon René /
My Old Kentucky Home & Camptown Races by Stephen Collins Foster /
Autumn Leaves by Joseph Kosma and Jacques Prévert, adapted by Johnny Mercer /
Way Down Yonder in New Orleans by Turner Layton and Henry Creamer
|69.20||11th Class A60|
|1989||(Up a) Lazy River by Hoagy Carmichael and Sidney Arodin / Go Tell It on the Mountain (Traditional) /
Jericho by Morton Gould / Carioca by Vincent Youmans, Edward Eliscu, and Gus Kahn /
Where is the Love by Ralph MacDonald and William Salter
|76.10||8th Class A60|
|1990||Repertoire unavailable||85.59||3rd Class A60|
|1991||Irish Festival||A collection of traditional Irish folk songs||86.00||1st Class A60|
|1992||Jig (from Saint Paul's Suite, First Movement) by Gustav Holst /
Freda by Kenny Baker / Minstrel Boy (Traditional) and Thomas Moore /
The Rakes of Mallow (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson / Four Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold
|1993||Gary Owen March (Traditional) / Over There by George M. Cohan / Tramp! Tramp! Tramp! by George F. Root /
My Bonny Boy (Traditional), adapted by Ralph Vaughan Williams / Far and Away by John Williams
|1994||Voices of the Isle||Four Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold /
Maggie Goes To Scotland & The Seduction (from Year of the Comet) by Hummie Mann /
Gary Owen March (Traditional) / Danny Boy (Traditional) and Frederic Weatherly
|1995||Shades of the Emerald||Diamond Dance by Bill Douglas /
Maggie Goes To Scotland, Helicopter Chase& The Seduction (from The Year of the Comet) by Hummie Mann /
Cursum Perficio, Storms in Africa & Orinoco Flow by Enya and Roma Ryan
|1996||Celtic Twilight||Highstep by Bill Douglas / The Journey Home by John Doan /
Scotland the Brave (Traditional) / Gary Owen March (Traditional)
|1997||Riverdance||Riverdance, The Heart's Cry, Shivna, Woman of Sidhe, Russian Dervish, American Wake, Firedance & Home and the Heartland
All from Riverdance by Bill Whelan
|1998||Irish in your Face||Irish Washerwoman (First Movement from Irish Suite) (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson /
Irish Tune from County Derry (Traditional), adapted by Percy Grainger / Irish Rhapsody by Victor Herbert
|1999||Greensleeves||Flute Concerto Movement III by Christopher Rouse /
The Girl I Left Behind (from Irish Suite) (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson /
Magh Seola (The Level Plain) by Gerard Fahy / The Cat Rambles to the Child's Saucepan (Traditional) /
English Dances 4th Movement by Malcolm Arnold /
Dargason (from The Saint Paul's Suite - Movement 4) (Traditional), adapted by Gustav Holst
|2000||Dances of Brigadoon||Fanfare (Original by Pioneer Staff) /
McConachy Square, Come To Me, Almost Like Being in Love & The Chase
From Brigadoon by Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe
|2001||Irish in the Civil War...
A Quest for Freedom
|Main Theme from Gettysburg by Randy Edelman / Variations on the Theme from Minstrel Boy by Frank McNamara /
Over the Fence & Dawn (from Gettysburg) by Randy Edelman / Dixie by Daniel Decatur Emmett /
Battle at Devil's Den (from Gettysburg) by Randy Edelman /
America the Beautiful by Samuel A. Ward and Katharine Lee Bates
|2002||Oliver!||Where is Love?, Main title theme, Be Back Soon, Consider Yourself,
The Robbery, As Long As He Needs Me & Who Will Buy
All from Oliver! by Lionel Bart
|2003||Spirit of the Pioneer||The Song of Moses by David Holsinger||72.30||23rd|
|2004||Return to Ireland||By Loch and Mountain by Robert W. Smith /
Irish Washerwoman (First Movement from Irish Suite) (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson /
Irish Washerwoman (Traditional), adapted by Robert W. Smith / Lord of the Dance by Ronan Hardiman /
Believe Me, if All those Endearing Young Charms (Traditional) and Thomas Moore / Riverdance by Bill Whelan
|2005||This Place Called Ireland||Our Homeland (Unknown) / The Irish Spirit (Unknown) / Tragic Legacy (Unknown) / Celtic Pride (Unknown)||71.525||23rd|
|2006||Emeraldscapes||Tarantella (from The Blue Room and Other Stories) by Phil Kline /
Slane (Traditional), commonly attributed to Dallán Forgaill
|2007||Fields of Green||Suite in E♭ by Gustav Holst /
Dargason (from The Saint Paul's Suite - Movement III) (Traditional), adapted by Gustav Holst /
The Rakes of Mallow & Irish Washerwoman (Irish Suite, 1st Movement) (Traditional), adapted by Leroy Anderson /
Minstrel Boy (Traditional) and Thomas Moore / Gary Owen March (Traditional)
|2008||Celtic Reflections||Suite in E♭ by Gustav Holst / Horkstow Grange (from Lincolnshire Posy) (Traditional) adapted by Percy Grainger /
The Celtic Symphony by Brian Warfield / Richard III & Crown Imperial by William Walton
|2009||Celtic Trinity||Three Celtic Dances by Brian Balmages / Into The Raging River by Steven Reineke||75.75||21st|
|2010||Corps Prayer||Swing Low, Sweet Chariot by Wallace Willis / Make His Praise Glorious by Bill and Robin Wolaver /
The Prayer by David Foster, Carole Bayer Sager, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis /
Stained Glass by David Gillingham / Old Hundredth (the Doxology) by Loys Bourgeois
|2011||Celebrate||Four Scottish Dances by Malcolm Arnold /
Song without Words, I'll Love My Love from 2nd Suite in F for Military Band (Traditional), adapted by Gustav Holst /
New World Symphony by Antonin Dvořák / As Time Goes By (from Everybody's Welcome) by Herman Hupfeld
The Hands that Built America
|New World Symphony by Antonín Dvořák / Recollections of Ireland by Ignaz Moscheles /
I'll Take You Home Again Kathleen by Thomas P. Westendorf /
I'm Shipping Up To Boston by Woody Guthrie,
Al Barr, Ken Casey, Matt Kelly, James Lynch, Marc Orrell, Josh "Scruffy" Wallace, and Tim Brennan
|2013||A New Spirit||Doxology by Loys Bourgeois and Thomas Ken / Awesome God by Rich Mullins /
It Is Well With My Soul by Philip Bliss and Horatio Spafford / Just A Closer Walk With Thee (Traditional) /
When the Saints Go Marching In (Traditional) adapted by Luther G. Presley /
The Hymn of Joy by Ludwig van Beethoven and Henry van Dyke / Gary Owen (Traditional)
|2014||Joy!||A Mighty Fortress Is Our God by Martin Luther / We Gather Together by Adrianus Valerius /
When the Saints Go Marching In by Virgil Oliver Stamps and Luther G. Presley /
Hallelujah Chorus (from The Messiah, Part II) by George Frideric Handel
Irish Tune from County Derry (Traditional), adapted by Percy Grainger / Gary Owen (Traditional)
Divide the Sea
Unite the People
|Exodus by Ernest Gold / The Ten Commandments by Elmer Bernstein / Man of Steel by Hans Zimmer||66.175||29th|
|2016||The Story of St. Joan of Arc||Act I: Voices–Voices of the Sky by Samuel Hazo /
Act II: Conflict–Lauds (Praise High Day) by Ron Nelson /
Act III: Capture and Condemnation–Adagio for Strings by Samuel Barber /
Act IV: Ascension–The Firebird Suite by Igor Stravinsky
|2017||Irish on Broadway:
The Music of Les Misérables
|Look Down, At the End of the Day, Master of the House, On My Own, The Attack on Rue Plumet, and One Day More
All from Les Misérables by Claude-Michel Schönberg, Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer
|2018||Celtic Dragons||The Awakening by Rob Stein, Dave Campbell, and Julia Coleman /
Taking Flight (from How To Train Your Dragon) by John Powell /
Dragon Fire & Beneath the Earth and Sky by Rob Stein, Dave Campbell, and Julia Coleman /
Since the corps' days in Division III, Pioneer's motto has been, "Better Every Day." This motto had been used by the Marion (OH) Cadets D&B corps, who, in 1990, allowed Pioneer to also use it.
Whether it was a part of the year's musical program or not, from at least the mid-1990s into the mid-2000-teens, at the conclusion of each performance, Pioneer marched off the field and/or "trooped the stands" (marched across the front of the grandstand in parade formation) while playing the traditional Irish air Garryowen (better known as the Garry Owen march). It will still occur occasionally.
Purchased on St. Patrick's Day in 1993, the "Pioneer Musical Youth Center", better known as "Pioneerland" is a 7 acres (2.8 ha) property in the Milwaukee suburb of Cudahy, Wisconsin, which is the corps' base of operations. The property contains a full drill field, half sized sectional field, offices and work space for corps staff, a garage for the corps' trucks and buses, and a parking lot. The corps plans to add a facility with practice rooms, a gym, additional office space, and a bingo hall.
- "Corps". Drum Corps International. Retrieved 24 February 2018.
- Steve Vickers, ed. (2003). A History of Drum & Bugle Corps. Vol. 2. Drum Corps World.
- "Pioneer". DCX: The Drum Corps Xperience. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "History of Pioneer". Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- "Pioneer drum, bugle, and color guard group marches into 50th year". The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 10 July 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Pioneer Drum and Bugle Corps". HALFTIME MAGAZINE / MUSE MEDIA. 27 July 2011. Retrieved 3 March 2012.
- "Administration". Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
- "Interview with Roman Blenski". Drum Corp World. January 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "Interview with Roman Blenski". Drum Corp World. February 2012. Retrieved 6 March 2012.
- "Pioneer/Repertoire". DCX: The Drum Corps Xperience. Retrieved 6 March 2018.
- "History of Pioneerland". Pioneer Drum & Bugle Corps. Retrieved 6 March 2012.